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Engineering permeates all aspects of our day to day lives - from when we get up and have a shower (an engineer has designed the shower unit which contains a pump and heat exchanger, and an engineer will have been responsible for designing the process to produce large amounts of the shower gels you use); to eating your breakfast (engineers will have designed a process to produce your flakes or weetabix and pasteurize your milk); to driving or cycling or taking the bus or train to school or work (again engineers will have designed your mode of transport) and the transport system it will run on (roads, bridges, railways) and the system it will run to (the automation and control of the railway lines, traffic lights and the traffic control systems). They will also have designed your mobile phone, your computer, television, laptop, and a range of other everyday items.
With an engineering degree you may follow an interesting career as a professional engineer which may take you down a technical route or you may move into a more managerial role as your career progresses (download current data on Engineering Engineering Salary Scales (363kB)Salary Scales (363kB)). As engineering is concerned with the application of science and thus cannot be studied to an appreciable level without a suitable understanding of science (which is provided for on your school curriculum and in the early stages of the degree) you may not fully understand what engineering is all about. However, if you are taking some science subjects, these are the foundations of an engineering career since engineering is concerned with converting ideas into reality. Scientists are more involved in basic research, while engineers conduct applied research amd innovation to design and construct the devices, modules, systems, structures and processes of our world.
So, if you wish to pursue your career in process industries, from the largely exporting pharmaceutical and chemical industry to the indigenous food industry, or to follow a career in the expanding area of supply chain engineering, then a degree in Process & Chemical Engineering may be your choice. If you wish to construct our future cities and transport systems or help tackle growing environmental problems, you should study Civil and Environmental Engineering. If you want to be part of the exciting world of electronics and photonics(the application of light), even to send satellites into orbit, or indeed to invent and develop circuits and technologies of the future you should study Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
If you wish to solve energy systems issues that involve the tasks of source, design, convert, transmit and supply of useful energy to meet our present and long-term needs for electricity, mobility and heating and cooling to help tackle the growing energy challenges and problems of the earth, you should study Energy Engineering. If you desire to explore how to combine art, science and engineering in the design and construction of buildings and their surroundings within a socio-cultural context, including the design of domestic, retail, leisure, health, commercial, industrial and educational buildings, towns and urban landscapes, you should study Architecture.
Engineers and architects are often involved with managing large complex projects so the person likely to make a good engineer will probably like working with others as part of a team. For those who prefer it, there are opportunities for design, research and planning and also scope for an outdoor life. There are also openings for graduates in the design, construction, operation and control of process manufacturing facilities (pharmaceutical, food, etc.). Each engineering project is different so each one offers a separate challenge to your ingenuity and skill which gives real job satisfaction.
The work of a classic engineer is well summed up by Paddy Purcell, former director general of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (IEI):
"There would be a perception of the hard hat on a rainy day on a building site with rain trickling down the back of your neck or an engineer with his or her head stuck into a rusty engine. Most images are so far from the reality. It's a high-tech, inter-personal profession, with a large amount of teamwork with colleagues, the use of computers, of high-tech equipment, financial analysis and planning. It's very far removed from the stereotype."